The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995 Page: 570
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
professionalize the advertising industry stimulated the formation of asso-
ciations which promulgated self-regulation and stricter business stan-
dards. Because outdoor advertising was a particularly visible type of
advertising, controversies over its function often provided opportunities
for advertising men to defend and legitimate their work.
Godfrey Flury, a Swiss-born immigrant who arrived in Austin in 1909,
was in many ways typical of contemporary advertising men in his efforts
to expand and legitimate his outdoor advertising business in the 191os
and 192os. Flury started out as a house painter and artist who decorated
local church interiors. However, his advertising work expanded from
painting signs for Bull Durham Tobacco and Lydia Pinkham's Com-
pound on the sides of barns into a profitable billboard advertising com-
pany by the end of the 192os. Flury employed a number of strategies to
protect and increase his business, including self-promotion ("If you want
it in a hurry--Get it from Flury"4), soliciting favorable local laws and reg-
ulations, gaining monopolistic control over certain public spaces, and,
more important, claiming his professional-quality advertising con-
tributed to urban beautification and the public interest. Flury's strate-
gies were emblematic of nationwide efforts to legitimate outdoor
advertising. Additionally, as a German-speaking immigrant in Texas,
Flury also aimed to assimilate into American business culture by joining
trade associations and local chapters of national business organizations
and by participating in patriotic activities. Thus, Godfrey Flury's activi-
ties provide a useful case study at the local level of the debates over out-
door advertising in the expanding commercial culture of the 191os and
Born into a German-speaking Swiss family in 1864, Flury emigrated to
the United States with his parents in 1881. After two divorces, several
children, and mixed results earning a living in various American towns
and cities, including San Antonio, Flury arrived in Austin in 1909, and
soon married for the third time. Looking for ways to supplement his
work as a sign- and house-painter, Flury became a town "booster." For-
mer advertising man Chalmers Pancoast has described the "trailblazers"
of advertising in the "wild west" as including a type called the "town
boosting expert." Enlisting the support of local business groups, a boost-
er would invent stunts or events to advertise the town:
The job of the town booster was to show a town how to get more business, to
develop more enthusiastic citizens, more loyal boosters, to get more factories,
4 Dorothy Flury, Our Father, Godfrey: A Biography (Austin: privately printed by Hart Graphics,
1976), 36, 45, 65 (quotation). Godfrey's daughter from his third marriage, an Austin high
school science teacher, wrote this biography of her father to "exonerate him from many state-
ments that maligned his character" (vii) and as a Bicentennial "gift to the nation" (147).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995, periodical, 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/m1/640/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.